Home Environment and health Making a cat-friendly garden

Making a cat-friendly garden

Plants poisonous to pets
Plants poisonous to cats - but catnip just makes George go nuts

Feline-friendly tips from Cats Protection

Cat lovers can find out how to create the ideal garden to enjoy with their pet with Cats Protection’s gardening tips.

The charity has compiled its top ideas for ensuring cats stay happy and safe outdoors, ahead of appearing at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival from May 9-12.

Cats Protection’s events manager Emma Osborne said: “Creating a feline-friendly garden where your cat will want to play, rest and explore is an excellent way to ensure they don’t wander far.

“It can be great fun coming up with ideas for new spaces for your cat to enjoy, which can also become an attractive feature in your garden.

“Whether it’s piles of logs to provide a scratching area or large bushy shrubs for hiding and snoozing under, there are lots of cheap and easy ways to transform a garden into a feline paradise.”

Other tips for keeping cats safe and amused in the garden are:

George
George eating ribbon grass as fast as it grows in the pond

Sow grass seeds

Cats love to nibble grass, which helps them cough up hairballs. A popular variety is Cocksfoot – buy seeds from a pet shop or garden centre and sow a patch in the garden.

George goes nuts over catnip
George goes nuts over catnip

Invest in catnip

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is renowned for inducing a highly excitable reaction in cats. Dried catnip is available in shops, but the fresh plant, with grey-blue leaves and blue flowers, makes an attractive addition to the garden.

Fatsia canopy
Daughter dearest reading under the shady ‘canopy’ created by hacking away a huge Fatsia – George photobombing, obviously

Plant for shade

Cats can feel threatened in exposed spaces and love secluded spots where they can rest and keep on eye on what’s happening! Choose bushy plants without thorns which can provide shade and a secluded spot for cats to enjoy – lavender is a great choice. George’s favourite hiding place is under a large Fatsia japonica, which is evergreen and pretty waterproof.

Yellow Bouquet lily
Bouquet lily. Picture; Sue Welford

Avoid poisonous plants

Avoid plants which can be toxic to cats – lilies, in particular, can be lethal. A full list is available on Cats Protection’s website at www.cats.org.uk/dangerous-plants or check out my guide here.

Safety checks

Keep chemicals and gardening products stored safely out of reach and check before shutting the door on sheds and outbuildings in case a cat has sneaked in.

Visitors to Cats Protection’s vintage summerhouse-style stand at RHS Malvern Spring Show can find out information about cats and their care, as well as enjoy browsing a range of cat-themed merchandise.

To find out more about Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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